Red Velvet Heart-Surprise Cupcakes

Cakes, Desserts, Holiday, Winter

Hi hi hi!

These were so fun to put together. I failed…SO HARD the first time I made these. A few of you might’ve seen it on Instagram. But the first, first time I tried to make them was actually a few years ago.

I bought this heartbreak cookie cutter in hopes of making “heartbreak surprise cupcakes.” BUT OMG that did not work at all. Now I realize the biggest problem that I kept encountering was that the cookie cutter needed to be the perfect size.

I finally figured it out and went to Michael’s and picked up this heart-shaped cookie cutter that’s about 1-inch big. It was only, like, a dollar and I believe now it’s on serious sale because Valentine’s Day is next week and Michael’s is already moving onto Easter/4th of July and most likely Halloween. They move quickly!

I will be very forthright and say that this recipe takes a bit of time. You basically make a 8-inch red velvet single layer cake. After it bakes, you punch out the hearts.

This layer can easily be made the night before and you can wrap it tightly and keep it in the fridge.

And then the white batter is made. The hearts are placed right in the center of the cake batter.

NOW, I know what you’re thinking: Doesn’t the center over bake? The answer is an astounding no.

I asked this question to Erin McDowell via DM–where we were discussing my big flop. She assured me that since cupcakes bake from the outside in, by the time the white part of cupcake is baked completely, the red velvet heart center won’t even have a chance to bake any longer. These cupcakes were super delicious and moist.

Oh and the cupcakes are topped with a cream cheese frosting because we have red velvet and it tastes delicious.

Red Velvet Heart-Surprise Cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serving Size: 22 cupcakes
Calories: 280kcal


Heart-Inside Batter:

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, (shaken)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 drops food coloring gel, (If not using gel, you’ll most likely need about 8 drops of regular food coloring)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

White Cupcake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, (shaken)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large eggs

Simple Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, (at room temperature)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, (at very room temperature)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream


To Make the Heart-Inside Batter:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease (with cooking spray) and line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment.
  • To a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • To the bowl of a stand-up mixer, with the paddle attachment (or a medium bowl with an electric mixer), add the butter and sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Crack in the eggs, one at a time. Pour in the buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla. Gradually add in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Pour the batter into the cake pan and spread the cake batter into an even layer. Transfer to the oven to bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
  • When cooled completely, level off the top of the cake so it’s totally flat. A serrated knife worked best. Stamp out hearts using a 1 1/2-inch heart cookie cutter (I found mine at Michael’s).

To Make the White Cupcake Batter:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Insert cupcake liners into a cupcake tin. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a measuring cup, measure out the buttermilk and whisk in the vanilla.
  • To the bowl of a stand-up mixer, with the paddle attachment, add the butter, sugar and honey. Cream together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Crack in the eggs and mix until combined. Add the flour in a few batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, until combined.
  • Fill each cupcake tin with two tablespoons of batter, about halfway. Nestle the cutout hearts in the center of each cupcake tin, facing them all the same way.
  • Transfer to the oven to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the white cake comes out clean. Cool in the pans on the wire rack for about 5 minutes.
  • What’s good about these cupcakes that at this point, you can see where you need to cut in order for them to see the heart in the center.

To Make the Frosting:

  • To the bowl of a stand-up mixer, with the paddle attachment, add the butter and cream cheese. Beat until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix slowly until combined. Add the vanilla , pinch of salt and heavy cream; beat once more for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • You’re free to decorate the cupcakes however you like. I chose to transfer the frosting to a piping bag with a round tip on the end. It’s important that you give yourself a way to know how to cut the the cupcakes so the heart inside is visible.
  • I chose to use a heart sprinkle as an indicator as to how to cut the cupcakes. I placed the heart sprinkles so the top of the heart sprinkle aligned with the cupcake on the inside. So all I had to do was cut above the top of the sprinkle, and I knew I would see the heart inside.
Keywordcupcakes, heart cupcakes, heart inside cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes
Did you make this recipe?Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen
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Leave a Reply

  • Avatar
    Reply aimee February 7, 2018 at 5:49 am

    well these are just about the most darling thing ever!

  • Avatar
    Reply Cady February 7, 2018 at 11:18 am

    When I first saw this recipe, I thought “how cute! but dear god probably super dry” and then I read what Erin told you and it’s like the stars aligned and the seas parted. I’ve probably baked over 3000 cupcakes in my mere 23 years of life and never thought about how exactly my cupcakes bake – embarrassing but I never called myself a professional.. I’m SO EXCITED to try these cupcakes out and can’t wait to see how many other shapes I can shove into my other cupcakes lol

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 8:19 am

      i was shocked that they weren’t dry. i also think that the buttermilk in the white cake helps. and the center being a super moist red velvet helps too!

  • Avatar
    Reply Roya February 7, 2018 at 11:37 am

    So adorable! Can’t wait to make these with my toddler!

  • Avatar
    Reply Caitlin February 7, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    So cute! I’ve been looking for a valentine’s themed recipe to bring into work and these look perfect. What sprinkles did you use? The hearts look bigger than the usual heart sprinkles I find in my local grocery store.

  • Avatar
    Reply Natalie February 7, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Ohhh, This cake is so cool Adrianna!!!
    I’m sure this recipe is absolutely for someone planning a confession xD xD
    and also for a surprise gift for lovers for sure xO

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 8:21 am

      haha i hadn’t thought of that. they’d be perfect for that!!

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  • Avatar
    Reply The Novice February 8, 2018 at 12:58 am

    These are stunning and so creative! You’re got such a talent. Keep up the awesome work!

  • Avatar
    Reply Scott | thymeforbreakfast February 8, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    QUEEN! Now if only I wasn’t so single. LOL . sus cute

  • Avatar
    Reply Catherine Weis February 8, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Oh my gosh! My 6 year old will swoon over these. Can’t wait to make them.

  • Avatar
    Reply Tim @ Simplee Kitchen February 9, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    OMG! These little cupcakes look A-MAZING! The little hearts in the center are soooo cute. I’m sure it’s the perfect lil’ bite of wonderful cupcake goodness, even if it did take a few tries to get it right. Thanks for sharing this recipe. 😉

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  • Avatar
    Reply Lisa February 11, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Just to clarify: In your text you say to make “an 8 inch layer cake” and you used a “1 inch cookie cutter from Michaels”,but in the recipe it says to make “a 9 inch cake” and to use a “1 1/2′ inch cookie cutter! Which is the correct info, please,dont want to ruin it! Thank you

  • Avatar
    Reply kristin March 5, 2018 at 3:32 am

    these are gorgeous!

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